Guatemala [Chixoy Dam] Reports
Dia de la Resistencia de los Pueblos, en la Lucha contra el TLC (15/3/2006)
Push for land reform met with violence (25/11/2002)
Guatemalan Massacre Survivor Demands Reparations from World Bank/IADB
"If the Chixoy Dam had not been built, then most of our community members would be alive today. The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank should pay reparations to the survivors of the massacres of Rio Negro. We can't get our loved ones back but we should be compensated for the land that we lost, our fruit trees and our sacred sites."
-- Carlos Chen, survivor of the campaign of terror unleashed upon the community of Rio Negro in the early 1980s.
Carlos Chen is in Washington DC this week (April 10-18), as part of the Mobilization for Global Justice, to raise awareness of his communities' plight. His trip to the US is being co-hosted by Rights Action and International Rivers Network. He will meet with World Bank and Inter- American Development Bank (IADB) officials to press them for reparations for his community.
In 1978, at the time of massive state-sponsored repression (defined by the United Nations as "genocide"), the World Bank and IADB funded the Chixoy dam project. The IADB loaned $105 million in 1978, and $70 million in 1981. The World Bank loaned $72 million in 1978 and another $44.6 million in 1985, after massacres had killed more than 400 members of the Rio Negro community opposed to the dam.
On March 13, 1982, the Guatemalan military and Civil Defense Patrols (paramilitaries) slaughtered 107 children and 70 women in the isolated Maya-Achi community of Rio Negro. The victims included Carlos' first wife, pregnant at the time, and their two infant children. This was the third of five massacres committed against the people of Rio Negro, following the community's refusal to leave their lands for Chixoy Dam's construction. The flooding of the reservoir began a few months after the last massacre.
Yet, despite sending numerous missions to oversee the project before, during and after construction, the World Bank and IADB apparently kept silent about the massacres until 1996, when human rights groups uncovered this story. The World Bank's own internal investigation then absolved it of responsibility.
The survivors of Rio Negro never received adequate compensation for the land, homes and personal property they lost or that was stolen from them, much less reparations for the violence perpetrated against them. Independent of the massacres, the World Bank, under its resettlement policy, has obligations to ensure that those resettled are not worse off after the project. [due to the massacres, there was little actual "resettlement"]. World Bank officials claim that they have restored the community to its 1975 standard of living. This is not so.
A growing movement of dam-affected communities from all over the world is demanding reparations, or retroactive compensation, for the continuing damage to their lives because of dams which have already been completed. The World Bank has been the largest single source of funds for large dam construction worldwide, and as such is a major target for dam-affected communities.
"Under its stated aim of alleviating poverty, the World Bank has promoted and funded dams that have displaced more than 10 million people from their homes and land, caused severe environmental damage, and pushed borrowers further into debt. Yet the Bank has never paid for the destruction it has caused to millions of people's lives and the environment. Now, it's time for the Bank to pay its own debts."
-- Ms. Aviva Imhof, South-East Asia Campaigner with International Rivers Network
Bank and Inter-American Development Bank:
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For interviews with Carlos Chen, please contact Rights Action.
For comment on the World Bank, Dams and Reparations, please contact Aviva Imhof, IRN.
Rights Action raises funds for community development & human rights projects in Southern Mexico, Guatemala & Honduras, and educates in the US & Canada about international development and human rights issues.
International Rivers Network supports local communities working to protect their rivers and watersheds. IRN works to halt destructive river development projects, and to encourage equitable and sustainable methods of meeting needs for water, energy and flood management.
South-East Asia Campaigner
International Rivers Network
January 29, 2001 www.rightsaction.org
Announcing a new website: www.advocacynet.org
Thanks to you who, last fall, sent letters [emails, fax, mail] to the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, asking that they seriously address the demands of the survivors of the Chixoy Dam/Rio Negro Massacres in Guatemala, for compensation and reparation.
Your letters are having an impact.
We will soon send a campaign update, asking you to again contact the WB and the IDB.
Meanwhile, we draw your attention to the new website of the Advocacy Project where you will find, amongst other information, their series on the efforts of the Rio Negro survivors to claim compensation and reparations for massacres that destroyed the community in 1982.
[Amongst the fine and important work of the Advocacy Project, you will also find a series they did, in conjunction with Rights Action, on the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.]
Advocacy Project Announcements
Washington DC (USA) and Geneva (Switzerland)
January 11, 2001
The Advocacy Project works to support advocates across the globe working on the frontlines for peace and human rights. Our new site can be visited at: www.advocacynet.org. The site has been designed by AeroNet Communications (www.aeronet.net), under the supervision of Teresa Crawford, technical director of the Advocacy Project.
The Advocacy Project is a virtual organization created in June 1998 to provide e-coverage of the Rome conference on the creation of the International Criminal Court. Since then it has evolved into a more general effort to help advocates get their message out, and to lobby on their behalf. As the website notes: "advocates are an excellent investment - they make a huge impact on tiny budgets."
The Advocacy Project has worked with eleven major grassroots campaigns since 1998. Three are profiled on the new web site:
Among its features, the website carries back issues of the Project's e-newsletter 'On the Record', which is distributed free of charge to thousands of subscribers. Thirteen volumes have been produced since 1998. Visitors will also find a photo archive and background material linked to the individual campaigns.
The Advocacy Project also provides technical assistance and other forms of support to advocates across the globe. Last year, the Project put together an 'advocacy package' for the Women's Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON). The AP technical director has also worked with the US Institute of Peace to link community leaders in Kosovo up to the internet. More details about the services on offer are available on the new site.
The Advocacy Project only works at the express invitation of advocates, and in partnership with nongovernmental organizations. It has received funding from a variety of foundations, NGOs and governments.
The Project is currently reviewing over twenty projects for 2001, which have been suggested by partners. These include invitations: to cover the proceedings of the special session of the UN General Assembly on children; to profile the work of Palestinian groups responding to the current violence; and, to support indigenous communities in Ecuador that have been affected by oil exploration.
For more information, visit the website at: www.advocacynet.org
Rights Action [formerly Guatemala Partners] www.rightsaction.org